The Commissar DVD


Klavdia Vavilova a Red Army cavalry commissar is waylaid by an unexpected pregnancy. She stays with a Jewish family to give birth and is softened somewhat by the experience of family life.

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26 March 2007
Artificial Eye Film Company Ltd. 
104 minutes 
Box set, PAL 
  • Average Rating for The Commissar [1967] - 3 out of 5

    (based on 1 user reviews)
  • The Commissar [1967]
    Jevon Taylor

    Banned for twenty years by the Russian government. A Soviet film about a pregnant female commisar who is billetted with a poor Jewish family during the Civil War, in a town whose citizens are very accustomed to it changing hands, Red, White, Red, etc. This film is clearly very interesting, even fascinating. However, I would not describe it as brilliant or a master peice. Some of the acting is less than great, though some of it - the Jewish father (Rolan Bykov, the "clown" from Andrei Rublev) - is brilliant. The music is unusual and experimental, again at times great, and at others grating. And the camera work and editing are wildly varied. All of this inconsistancy makes for a film that is as formally interesting as its subject matter(s), but also one that at times tries to be too forward thinking and avant garde. Despite this, however, this film is worth watching and watching more than once, probably even more times than a "better" film. Having seen it twice already myself, I would acert that every viewing is likely to be a slightly different experience, equally as varied as the films many vagaries. And I have recommended it to several friends despite its flaws.

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Political and religious-themed drama from the former Soviet Socialist Republic ultimately doomed to be shelved for 21 years for its honest, and thus subversive, nature. During the Russian Civil War, a stanch, dedicated female cavalry commissar in the Red Army falls pregnant against her wishes. Forced to rest while the baby is born, she is cared for by a penniless Jewish family. The family's open-hearted kindness goes against everything she has previously believed about people of the Jewish faith and, coupled with unexpected feelings of tenderness through motherhood, shakes her belief system to its core. Aleksandr Askoldov, the director, was fired, silenced and ostensibly neutered for the offence of making such an anti-party-stance picture - expelled from the party and banned from making films for life.

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